The Eastern Produce Council’s Leadership Program participants on a Sept. 10 visit to Rutgers University’s Wightman’s Farm. ( Courtesy Eastern Produce Council )

The New York Produce Show and Conference will celebrate its 10th year in 2019, and the event has become a fixture among produce industry trade shows.

“The show gets bigger and better every year and this year will be no exception,” said Susan McAleavey Sarlund, executive director of the Eastern Produce Council, co-host of the event.

The Dec. 10-14 show also is the capstone of the year-long experience of the latest class of the Eastern Produce Council Leadership Program, which is a professional development experience for produce professionals who have fewer than 10 years of experience in the industry.
2019 program participant Heather Harter, industry communications coordinator for the Avondale, Pa.-based Mushroom Council, said the experience has been valuable.

“I gained a lot of insight by having the chance to network with other professionals in the other produce channels — distribution, retail, direct sales,” Harter said.

 “It helped provide me with an overview of what our growers and distributors deal with to get the product picked, packed and distributed to food service or retail.”

Harter said visits to port and packing facilities were instructive about produce distribution. Program participants enjoyed building relationships with one another, she said.

“It also provided a chance to meet others who have a similar role as mine and discuss ways they market and promote their products, and build a network going forward of colleagues to interact with and bounce ideas off,” Harter said.

The first 14 students in the program graduated and received a certificate of completion at the 2018 show’s keynote breakfast.

This year, the 2019 EPC Leadership Class program included several events prior to the New York Produce Show:

  • April 9: Visit to Holt Cargo Systems, Inc. at the Port of Gloucester City and Greenyard Logisitics USA;
  • April 23: Food Safety Modernization Act Seminar;
  • June 4: Classroom and field experience at Rutgers University’s Snyder Farm; and
  • Sept. 10: Classroom and field experience at Rutgers University’s Wightman’s Farm.

The 2020 class will be announced early next year, she said.